chapter  8
15 Pages

Morning in the new metropolis: Taipei and the globalization of the city film


In the ubiquitous and at times nearly deafening rhetoric of globalization, images and places habitually occupy opposite poles, with “global image flows” the emblematic border-crossing phenomenon, and the neighborhood, the village, and other place-bound communities standing enduringly for the local. Globalization exudes a peculiar “charm” and “charisma,” to use Anna Tsing’s words, and it therefore entices with an allure unmatched since the moment when “modernization” was a galvanizing ambition and a mesmerizing force.1 Cinema has been a crucial element of globalization’s disarming charisma, just as in the moment when modernity spread around the globe, its attractions on view in the films produced in Hollywood, Paris, and Shanghai. In that earlier global rhetoric, the city was a crystallization of a modernity realized in the urban form and placed on display, broadcast outward by modern media technology, especially the cinema. Recent discussions of the “global city” send the rhetoric of globalization crashing headlong into the vestiges of its modern predecessor, two captivating discourses, one burgeoning (aided by the appeal of a resilient cinema, one among many image-based media) the other waning (along with a cinema that joins the long litany of ambitious projects now at their end, most famously history). How do we situate cinema in relation to the “global city” or the “world city,” those oxymoronic phrases whose all-encompassing adjectives appear determined to unsettle and sweep up the city that develops in a particular location with its own history? How do we see the city within the far more spectacular manifestations of a global moment that threatens to overwhelm it?